tv MSNBC News Live MSNBC December 30, 2009 4:00pm-5:00pm EST
region and the devices are somewhat similar. there is the syringe, there is a powder. so the question is were some of the same elements who were involved in assisting the suspect in the detroit plot in assembling the device also involved in this previous incident which is now just coming to light. that obviously, they are taking a very hard look at. not clear if petn was the substance in the somalia case. it does not appear to be so in that case but the investigation taking a look back to see the possible connections. >> jonathan, as far as abdulmutallab, the information that has come out in the last 24 hours, what jumps out at you as the most interesting? >> i think the question of connecting the dots and were wa. if you look at what nbc news has been piecing together, the dad goes to the embassy and says look, my son may be involved
with yemeni extremists. that is wired back here to the u.s. earlier in august, even a part of the name umar farouk, a nigerian is training with extremists and possibly aligning with al qaeda and as you mentioned in your introduction there that al qaeda was talking about a possible christmastime attack. three different pieces of information. could that have been pieced together and should it have been passed over back here in a more timely fashion? those are some of the questions that the administration trying to piece together at this hour. >> jonathan dean, thanks as always. president obama is going to be issuing or talking perhaps about -- receiving a preliminary report on how some of this happened so we will have more reporting throughout the day and, of course, again tomorrow. petn, the explosive agent that abdulmutallab used to try to blow up the airplane over detroit, that has been a major
security concern for the united states since shoe bomber richard reed tried to use it in 2001 trying to blow up a transatlantic flight headed for obama. the daily beast reported chatter about it increased over the summer. abdulmutallab had a six inch packet of petn sewn in his underwear. 1/4 of an ounce is enough to blow a hole in the hull of a commercial aircraft. petn is one of the ideal terror weapons because the technology to detect it is not widely available. barry mccaffrey is a military analyst. general mccaffrey, you have experience with petn. tell us about it. >> well, david, in my youthful life i have blown up a lot of stuff. my favorite explosive is military c-4. it is easy to blow things up.
an airliner would be an easy target without tsa. the challenge for the terrorists is getting the explosives aboard but the detonating device. very easy to set it off, petn as long as you have nonelectric or electric plastic caps. that is what they can't get on the planes easily. they are trying these squirly methods of chemical ignition. >> as far as petn, it could pass as sugar, salt, disguised as ground coffee.ç not very volatile. but the other things that are required to set it off, blasting caps, that is the sort of thing that should be easy for security officials to detect, right? >> yeah. absolutely. by the way, you can ship -- petn is normally shipped as a liquid mixed in water. it is the least stable of the military explosives. it is not as unstable as
nitroglycerin, but it is a dangerous, extremely powerful explosive with a shattering effect. again, the challenge to these terrorists is detonators and the tsa, thank god, stands between them and an easy target which is an airliner at altitude. >> after 9/11 our government spent $30 million on 207 puffer machines we've seen that blow air on passengers to sniff out explosives, capable of detecting petn. there are 40 machines being used down from 94. the cutback was over cost and the ma cheens breaking down. would you put your resources on these machines or the technology to detect the blasting caps and fuses to go along with it? >> well, i think first of all, the most important thing is to leave some uncertainty there and make sure there isn't clarity in the minds of the terrorist what the screening is.
i would make sure there is a secondary screen for people that piqued my interest. where you could spend more money on fewer passengers with more complex technology and manual search techniques. that is what has been lacking. we need to pull aside any suspect passenger as the israelis do and subject them to rigorous scrutiny. >> general barry mccaffrey, thanks for coming on. >> good to be with you, david. now to the bigger picture, here in washington the political blame game over the attempted terror attack moved into high gear with former vice president dick cheney taking the lead. cheney accused president obama of not being tough enough on terror. the former vice president says we are at war and when president obama pretends we aren't it makes us less safe. why doesn't he want to admit we're at war? it doesn't fit with the view of the world he brought with him to
the oval office." . to be fair mr. obama's last policy speech mentioned war 20 times. peter king blasted president obama for waiting three days before speaking out. that sentiment wasç echoed by karl rove. republicans seem to be suffering from an awfully convenient case of amnesia. that given the bush administration's handling of the news about richard reed known as the shoe bomber. remember him? in december, 2001, reed attempted to blow up a miami-bound jet using explosives hidden in his shoe. president bush did not address the foiled terror plot in six days. on christmas eve, a bush white house spokesman said president bush continued to monitor the situation and received updates at camp david. more on the political blame game. mike viquera joins us from the white house. such an obvious double standard.
what does the obama administration make of it? were the republicans aggressive and the too limp in 2001? >> democrats are rushing to the defense of president obama. you are right, in the immediate aftermath of this attempted attack on that airliner that landed in detroit there were two members of the house, two republicans who have standing briefed by intelligence officials within the administration. pete hoekstra, the ranking republican on the intelligence committee and peter king, the ranking republican on the homeland security committee. now here comes dick cheney. basically it fall into three categories, their criticism. closing guantanamo, a terrible idea. about 1/2 of the detainees are yemeni citizens. the obama administration released yemenis because they didn't know what to do with them. dick cheney saying the bush
administration doesn't like to use the word war on terror but the president has given several major speeches where he talked about the war on al qaeda and a speech about spending 30,000 more troops to afghanistan and that the president's response was too slow. dan burton on the oversight committee called for janet napolitano to resign saying her assertion the system worked in this instance was bizarre. chris van hollen, to talk about politics, he is in charge of getting democrats elected and re-elected to the house of representatives said all of these procedures, protocols, much is left over from the bush administration and the president in a statement yesterday made a brief and vague allusion to the fact that a lot of these things are in place from a previous ç
administration. an obscure congressman from new york points out al qaeda on the arabian peninsula were released from guantanamo by the bush administration. a lot of fighting back and forth. not very slow this holiday week in washington. >> any time a republican congressman dan burton describes anybody else's behavior as bizarre, that is rich for anybody inside politics. one of the republicans criticizing president obama, congressman pete hoekstra is, as mike said, using the failed terror attack to help raise donations for his campaign to become governor of michigan. in a letter of the wake of the attempting bombing hoekstra says if you agree that we need a governor who will stand up to the obama/pelosi evidents to weaken our security, please make a donation to my campaign. the democratic national committee calls hoekstra's fund-raising letter shameful. breaking news from
afghanistan. a suicide attack from a military base has left at least eight americans dead. it happened in the coast province of eastern afghanistan. one report said a bomber blew himself up. the dead are all civilians. no reports of u.s. military casualties in this attack. let's bring in retired army colonel jack jacobsen. what do you make of it? >> chapman has been targeted before. there were suicide attacks at the gates a year or so ago. it is in the far eastern section of afghanistan right up against pakistan. it is a taliban strong hold as is the area over the border inside pakistan. there are quite a few civilians on the base. when asked why -- how could
something like this happen the answer is that we employee a large number of locals in the area who are afghans who are employed in various ways on the base. they are checked and rechecked but there is no way to guarantee that they are not part of the taliban, they are not sympathetic to the taliban so access is relatively easy. >> jack, one of the issues people in the region and you know very well, there is a certain dependency on locals to help you with mundane tasks. you can never be quite 100% certain of security with them even if they are helping for months at a time. possible that is the problem here? >> yes. in addition to locals we import laborç from other areas around from world. contract employees from as far away as indonesia, for example. we have found people on forward operating bases in afghanistan and iraq who have been
sympathetic with taliban and al qaeda. most of them have been removed but there's only with consistent checking is it possible to ensure that people who are not sympathetic with taliban do not get on base. nevertheless this stuff will continue to happen especially forward-operating bases close to pakistan. >> nbc military analyst retired army colonel jack jacobs. thank you. >> we want to mention a story we are now monitoring at san antonio airport. a regional jet with 87 people onboard blew a tire on takeoff. the san antonio fire department says that actually 87 people are onboard the jet circling around the san antonio airport and is going to make a landing at a certain point. the san antonio fire department has its crews out there. they have 50 personnel and 16 units on the scene.
again, we're getting these images from woai, our nbc affiliate in step too. as we get more information and the situation develops and one presumes it is going to develop for a little while because standard procedure is the aircraft will try to burn off fuel before it makes a landing. an aircraft with a blown tire in san antonio circling the airport. we will get back to this story and monitor to make sure how things turn out there. we will try to get a picture of the aircraft circling the airport so perhaps people can get some sort of look at it. but, again, we'll keep you posted on this story as it develops. coming up, the afghan army. a new u.s. report is offering an extremely pessimistic view on whether the afghan army will ever be able to take over for american forces. a sudden storm out west left over 1,000 vehicles stranded overnight. stunning high gloss
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these are pictures of a few minutes ago. this is tape from the san antonio airport where a regional jet with 89 people onboard. we don't believe that is it. a regional jet, 89 people onboard has been circling the airport apparently with a blown tire or landing gear malfunctioning. woai is training its eyes on aircraft flying around and trying to establish a picture with the aircraft that everyone is concerned about. the fire and rescue personnel are there.
once the aircraft does try to make an emergency landing or we get more information we will take you back to the developing story in san antonio, texas. the northwest is trying to recover from a winter blast. in portland, oregon, the unexpected snow turned the roadways into a dangerous mess. police say they had reports in the first couple of hours of thousands of vehicles stranded. drivers are putting chains on their tires. interstate 80 was shut down. kcra brian hickey is in blue canyon, california, with this very snowy report. >> reporter: it continues to snow up here. i thought the storm was winding down. for now it continues to snow to 5,000 feet. behind us you can see interstate 80 even though the plows have come and scraped it to bare
nothing there is an icy layer. you are going to need chains with chain controls down outside of baxter, channing up or four-wheel drive up to the ski areas. here at 5,000 feet, a few inches of snow on the ground but ski areas looking to a few feet of snow. the skiing and snowboarding ought to be great. the picture opportunities even better, a beautiful winter scene as we celebrate between the holidays and the new year. yes, enjoying my element aka blue canyon. >> brian, thank you very much. let's go back to san antonio. this regional jet has a landing gear problem. there it is landing now. let's watch and see. actually, we do not know if this is the aircraft.
it is a regional aircraft landing. we will seek confirmation on whether this is the aircraft everyone is concerned about. a canada air regional jet with 89 passengers aboard whr!r would fit the description of this particular type of airplane had a landing gear problem, a blown tire or the landing gear was not working. in either case we were told the aircraft was circling the airport and this would appear to be it given the fire trucks are following the aircraft. it looks like the aircraft has made a safe landing and because it is stopped there at the end of the runway, the telltale sign that this is the aircraft everyone was concerned about. it would appear all is fine and the landing gear worked and perhaps the front landing gear worked. no sparks or sign of friction with the runway. looks like they are going to get the all-clear in san antonio.
an interesting journey for passengers there. a u.sair flight that made a successful landing at san antonio airport. a good outcome for everybody involved. up next, looking for a few good men. we will tell you about a nevada brothel trying to recruit male prostitutes. that's next. show and tell... with all the pet hair in the air my eyes would really itch. but now i have new zyrtec® itchy eye drops. no other allergy itchy eye drop works faster or longer. zyrtec® itchy eye drops work fast i can love the air™. (announcer) find it in the allergy aisle.
they will begin with two male employees but plans to add more as the demand increases. >> i have 150 applicants sitting in my e-mail folder. some are going to make it. some won't. >> the question is how many clients will she have. other brothel owners think the idea will be failed. the idea has been talked about before most notably by heidi fleiss. a family is building a huge snowman as tal of their house. it took them two days to finish the snowman. an update with a family with an unusual last name expecting a gift. the christmas family, yes, their last name is christmas. they welcomed their bundle of
joy tuesday. joe anna and ronny christmas went with mary. given joanna's due date they couldn't resist. >> i did want her to be born on christmas. i thought that would be really funny and a lot of fun. i don't think you could get a better christmas present. >> baby mary has an aunt and grandmother with the same name. mary. coming up, is there a double standard when it comes to terror? we will look how president obama and president bush handled two very similar incidents. it is part of today's "faceoff." the debate coming up.
the s&p 0.2 points. the treasury department says additional funds for gmac are 30% less than expected but on top of $12.5 billion already received. tavern on the green will be serving its last meal after going into bankruptcy. that's it from cnbc first in business worldwide. back to msnbc. welcome back, everybody. i'm david schuster in washington. how the christmas day terror scare is complicating president obama's decision on guantanamo bay. the yemen based branch of al qaeda is claiming the attack by abdulmutallab. lawmakers from both parties including senators dianne
feinstein and john mccain are calling on president obama to stop releasing gitmo detainees back to yemen. the practice started under president bush and it's believed those yemenis released may have provided support to abdulmutallab. we are joined byç a reporter f capitol newspaper "roll call ". a general sense of releasing yemen detainees a mistake? >> obviously. yemen might be the new hot spot for terror training in addition to the other hot spots we have to worry about around the globe. that is a policy that has to be rethought and probably should have never happened. >> any admissions by republicans or the bush administration that, yes, their rediggs to release detainees at guantanamo who seemed innocent, to yemen was a mistake? >> i haven't heard of any yet.
i don't think anyone from the previous administration could argue doing so was a good idea. i'm sure what we will hear is based on knowledge that we had at the time it was the right decision to make based on what we knew and given the fact that gitmo is not necessarily popular around the world. we were trying to do our best to release the prisoners we could hoping the countries we sent them back to would handle individuals that we deem to be terrorists. clearly this is a big problem because as the president looks to close down gitmo, this is something he's going to have to contend with. who does he hold on to? how long does he hold on to them and how does he process them whether, you know, from a criminal standpoint or a war crime standpoint? the problem isn't just gitmo but in the eyes of other countries, how long do we hold on to these
individuals without a charge. in the u.s. if we hold them indefinitely that new prison will be deemed unpopular. >> fascinating details are emerging about the yemen connection and possible ties to the ft. hood gunman. the idea this radical clerk somehow helped abdulmutallab and he may have inspired or exchanged e-mails with the ft. hood gunman. what is the latest reporting on that? >> i think we are still trying to determine the details. when it comes to investigation of terrorist plots these things take a lot of twists and turns. i think it is going to be several weeks before we start to have a handle on everything that was involved here. >> david drucker, thanks for coming in. >> any time. in today's "faceoff" the terror blame game and whether republicans are applying a double standard and criticizing president obama for failing to
speak out on the attempting bombing for three days. republicans forgetting president bush on vacation in 2001 didn't speak out for six days after shoeç bomber richard reed attempted an attack on an aircraft bound for miami. the president spoke about it december 22, 2001. >> we don't know, david, whether or not he has given any orders to any of his soldier, but we take nothing for granted and so our country still remains on alert. >> that was december 28th. the incident with the bomber was six days earlier lt here to faceoff, democratic strategy karen finny and republican strategist brent littlefield. you'll acknowledge there is a clear double standard here, won't you? >> i like this set up. wonderful hearing these types of things. i saw this at the uber liberal
huffington post . if we don't know the facts we will make it up. >> it was on politico, which is not liberal. >> name anybody who criticized president bush for waiting six days to talk about richard reed. >> okay. the issue is not the president waited a while to speak the issue is what he said. we should be celebrate the fact we are entering a new year. happy new year to you and we should be thankful we have folks that work in the cia and our military to protect us so we can celebrate a new year here. the issue is not what the president -- the fact he waited but what he said. he has not rejected the idea of sending people from guantanamo back to yemen. he has not changed his policy. the issue is is he going to change his policy? >> you totally ignored the
question. there is a double standard. there is a difference between 72 hour and six days this is not a democratic issue or republican issue. it is an american issue. it makes us all concerned. you can't ignore the flakt is a clear double standard there was a much larger lag of time. it shows more than anything how low the republican party has fallen and how committed they are to trying to tear down president obama that they would politicize the security of the united states of america. you can't deny that, brent. >> since this is the holiday season, brent, i'm being charitable. you have to admit that, yes, president bush was wrong to wait six days before talking about richard reed and the bush administration was wrong to release prisoners from guantanamo back to yemen. >> i always wonder who i'm debating, you or karen. the issue is not the fact the what the president said.
>> oh come on, brian. >> that is the issue being raised by republicans. that is the real issue being raised by republicans. whether or not he is going to abandon his policies. >> brent, that is great spin, brent, but come on. the initial criticism was about the timing. not just about what he said. actually what i would say about what he said although i would have liked to hear him maybe come out a little sooner and reassure the american people, i think the american people are appreciating the fact he is trying to be forthcoming with information. we know these things will unfold over time and we will learn about the events that led to this incident. how can you criticize the president for coming out and saying we screwed up. you have a problem with that? >> what i guess the problem is is the president going to maintain his policy of sending prisoner from guantanamo bay to new york city.
>> you mean continue the bush policy? brent, you mean continue the bush policy. >> i'm speaking of his policy to send people to new york city to be tried. it will cost $75 million to have that trial in new york city. are we going to continue to do this. are we going to continue to send people the yemen >> there are 240 terrorists who have been tried and convicted in the united states. where were you complaining about the cost of being tried about them ? >> i wasn't invited to msnbc to talk about that. no one is going to defend the previous policy in light of this, sending prisoners to yemen. i can't imagine anyone is going to do that. is the president going to change his policy and change what he is going to do with these prisoners in guantanamo bay. >> brent, do you think it was appropriate for hoekstra to send out a fund-raising e-mails based on the criticisms of the
president on our national security? >> i don't work for peter hoekstra. >> do you think it is appropriate? >> i haven't read it. i'm sure you'll criticize it. >> i'm asking you what i think is a fair question. it is the holidays. i feel like we should be generous. i envy you trying your darnedest to defend an indefensible position. >> what is indefensible is the president hasn't changed his position. >> we don't know that. we will find out. spirited as always. thank you for coming on. >> happy new year. a new u.s. report pp@'ts a grim picture of the afghan army. afghanistan is not going the way we want at least if we are going to have to rely on the afghan army. [ female announcer ] there's sick...
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we are back with some new photos of a suspicious van that caused a hell of a scare today in new york's times square one day before a million people gather to ring in the new year. the van had been abandoned for two days with no license plates and a fake police placard. authorities sent in a robot to check out the van. police found clothing and determine td the vehicle belonged to a peddler. the all clear was given shortly
afterwards. reports out of iran that opposition leaders have fled the capital of tehran as the government calls for quick executions of protesters, mir hossein mousavi is said to be among those fleeing, but his son say he remains in tehran. today during a pro-government rally, crowds that were bussed in from tehran and given the day off for protests condemned the united states and great britain for supporting the anti-government protesters. the top u.s. commander in afghanistan stanley mcchrystal says training afghan officers is crucial to success. president obama said he wanted to accelerate the handoff to afghans. a new report obtained
exclusively by nbc news reveals a more critical situation. afghan security forces are in bad shape with little hope for improvement any time soon. richard engel has more. >> reporter: the 25-page study obtained by nbc news says senior afghan commanders are "not at war. many ana leaders work short c: days, are often absent and place personal gain above national survival." the reports say afghan troops simply aren't leading the fight and remain dependent on u.s. forces and show few signs of wanting to take off the training wheels. what is striking about the report is it goes to the heart of president obama's argument about the war. when announcing the surge the president said afghan forces must be trained and equipped quickly so american troops can return home. but the report's section on the afghan army's personnel says corruption, nepotism and
untrained, unmotivated personnel make success all but impossible and there may not be nearly as many afghan battalions as the report claims. estimates per soldiers in battalions far below reported between 40% and 50% in some areas. afghan soldiers still in the ranks have literacy problems and mentally, physically unfit and drug addicts hurt units. perhaps the most controversial finding, however, has to do with timing. president obama has said he wants the troop surge to start drawing down in july, 2011, but the assessment said it will take time to expand and rehabilitate afghan forces. the report said it cannot take a year to fix this problem. >> nbc news chief foreign correspondent richard engel, thanks for the report. so can the united states
possibly succeed in afghanistan without a robust effort on the part of the afghan forces retired colonel jack jacobs, it is not matter of effort, but corruption and nepotism make this all but impossible. >> it has always been that way in afghanistan. if we are going to rely on what kabul does to achieve success in afghanistan we are going to be terribly disappointed and might as well pull out now. remember back when the taliban was driven out of afghanistan at the beginning of the war, it wasn't kabul that did it. wasn't the united states although we assisted with air strikes, it was the tribesmen in the provinces that drove the taliban out. in the end it will be the tribesmen again and not the afghan army. if we rely on the afghan army we are going to be waiting a long, long time. >> the entire mission is to grab
territory, hold it and turn it over to trained afghan forces. if the afghan forces are incapable, what is the point? >> the point is to do it in a piecemeal fashion. we canç prevail but only inste of sending money to kabul that gets siphoned off, we force it in the provinces to assist and empower tribesmen to get their own militias to empower their own people and develop their own economies. that is the only way we are going to be able to revail. it is the way we did it in 2002. >> to put this in some context richard engel reported that there is essentially no infrastructure above the company level. the people on the ground are fighting, but colonels or people in charge of maybe 100 to 150 soldiers who have competence or
skills. is it possible to work in these small groups to identify 100 afghan soldiers to build up and do it that way and count on being successful? >> i believe so but only if we focus on the local level. the problem is there has never been any cadre in afghanistan to put together a large-scale army that can defend the entire republic. that is not going to happen, certainly not in our life times. when we eliminated the russian army, assisted the taliban to eject the russian army, we didn't do it by building up a central government and a central army. we did it by driving them out from the provinces. that is the way we are going to prevail now. >> colonel jack jacobs, good of you to join us today. >> thank you. some things we thought you should know. the republican hoping to win the senate seat once held by ted kennedy compared himself to john f. kennedy.
with have immediate and permanent impact on our economy. every dollar will help create a new job and a new salary. these new jobs and new salaries can create other jobs and other salaries. >> state senator brown, a little bit of advice, it is never a wise idea to compare yourself to jfk. just ask dan quayle. a "usa today"/gallup poll, president obama is the man americans admired most, hillary clinton finished in a virtual tie as the most admired woman. george w. bush finished with 4%, nelson mandela and the pope and a certain fox news host at 2%. when it comes to the most admired woman, hillary clinton edges sarah palin by one percentage point, oprah winfrey
8%, michelle obama at 7% and condoleeza rice and queen elizabeth with 2%. shamans got together to predict the future. one said it was time for venezuelan president hugo chavez to lower tensions with colombia. they prayed for better understanding among latin american nations. it is not clear how these predigpr predictions have turned out in the past. those are a few things we thought you should know. now is the time we look back at the most important political events and tomorrow nbc's first read publishes its first top ten list. let's get a sneak peek with mark murray. >> hey, david. tomorrow's first read, we look
at the top ten political events of the decade. number three is the 2000 presidential election and the florida recount that lasted so long. number two will be the election of the nation's first african-american president, barack obama and number one, the 9/11 terrorists attacks the politics of which continue to reverberate as we are seeing today particularly over the past five, six days. >> mark, there is an argument to be made florida should be a number one because if the results had been different that wouldç have affected 9/11, the politics of 9/11. am i wrong? >> david, there are so many good arguments. you could have that number one. obama's election number one. we had 9/11 number one because of the politics of terrorism has pervaded so much what has gone on. you make a good point, who was elected in 2000 had an impact on 9/11 and its aftermath.
>> mark, it's been so interesting to watch the political effects after what happened in detroit last week. the republicans were criticizing president obama for waiting a couple of days. it didn't take long for anybody to figure out george w. bush didn't speak out for six days. is it blowback or smart politics that republicans will hope americans will forget. >> it is smart politics. i chatted with historians today. this is what republicans have done. the fdr time, mccarthy and when republicans are out of power they play to quite good effect the national security card. they are doing that right now and it has helped them win elections in the past. when something works you do it again and again and again. >> mark, thanks as always. check out first read, especially tomorrow morning. log on to firstread.msnbc.com.
that is "the big picture" for today. i'm david schuster. tamron hall will be back on monday. we can't wait. up next "hardball with chris matthews" starts now. >> trollman. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in new york. leading off tonight attack dog, dick cheney is at it again, joining the right wing attack pack blaming president obama for being responsible for the attempted christmas day plane bombing. cheney says the president is pretending we are not at war with terrorists. the most striking thing about cheney's holiday attack is he is more interested in condemning the president of the united states than al qaeda. the man knows his enemy. people living in the real world meanwhile are trying to figure out why the warning signs were
missed. the national counterterrorism center was established after 9/11. isn't this why the director of national intelligence was created, to connect the dots the more we learn about the planned attack, the more we learn clues were there. why were they missed? the more vital question how many are now being missed right now? how many dots are not being connected now that need to beç connected to save us from further danger. also, the biggest lies in 2009. see if you can guess how high sarah palin comes in. could we have imagined the united states would have an african-american president or the country moved this far in accepting gay marriage. some of the biggest political changes in the past ten years and challenges and opportunities they present to both political parties. and finally, which public figure would americans most want to live next door. that is in the